I think Jeremy proves when he gets the minutes and he gets his confidence, he can play with the best of them. Now his time will come. We're going to need him to step up." —Tyrone Corbin, Utah Jazz head coach
PORTLAND, Ore. — While Enes Kanter's shoulder injury was being discussed at practice Thursday, Gordon Hayward took exception to a question about the luxury of still having three other good bigs on the Utah Jazz.
"Four other ones," he said.
That'd be Jeremy Evans, Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap and, don't forget, Al Jefferson.
In reality, Hayward was making sure reporters remembered his buddy, the 2012 Slam Dunk champion.
With Kanter's injury, the Jazz coaching staff might even remember Evans is available for non-garbage-time action.
An MRI test on Thursday revealed that Kanter has a left shoulder dislocation. He didn't travel to Portland and is out "indefinitely," according to the team's medical staff.
While the bulk of the big man load will remain with Big Al, Millsap and Favors, Kanter's absence could open up playing time for Evans.
"Every time he gets the opportunity, he seems to make the most of it," Hayward said. "Hopefully, he can do that again."
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was concerned about Kanter's situation — "Hopefully, it's not anything major," he said before the MRI result — but also expressed confidence in his healthy and available bigs.
Speaking of health, Jazz power forward Paul Millsap didn't practice Thursday while dealing with gastric distress, which also hit guard Randy Foye hard on Wednesday. But Millsap traveled with the team to Oregon and is expected to play tonight in this important game against the Trail Blazers.
At this point of the season — with a playoff berth up for grabs — the Jazz can use all the extra help they can get.
"We've got a lot of depth on this team," Hayward said. "So if we can utilize that when someone goes down, you've just got to fill their shoes."
Jefferson, the Jazz's leading scorer and rebounder, also gave a verbal vote of confidence in Utah's plethora of posts, including Evans.
"I think Jeremy proves when he gets the minutes and he gets his confidence, he can play with the best of them," Jefferson said of the bouncy, 6-9 forward who's averaged 2.2 points and 1.7 rebounds in an average of 6.3 minutes in his 32 appearances.
"Now his time will come. We're going to need him to step up."
Corbin said the Jazz could turn to Evans and even to 6-9 small forward Marvin Williams to play some power forward in "an emergency situation."
GOOD ATTITUDE: Kanter caught observers by surprise when he was smiling and laughing in the locker room an hour or so after his shoulder popped out of place following a scrum for the ball with Phoenix's 7-2, 265-pound center, Hamed Haddadi.
That chipper outlook could prove beneficial as he works his way back into the rotation over the next few days (or weeks).
Corbin has one concern about Kanter's rehab. He hopes the fitness-conscious 20-year-old doesn't try to rush back and do too much too quickly.
"I know that he'll want to lift weights because he's into his body," Corbin said. "But we've got to make sure he's doing the right thing, so he don't hurt himself any further."6 comments on this story
GRIN AND BEAR IT: Jefferson also complimented Kanter for his post-injury demeanor.
"That says a lot about a person and his character," Big Al said.
The Jazz captain said the team will miss having Kanter around for multiple reasons.
"If he's out, it's going to hurt the team because the fact he's playing great right now. He's a great guy to have around the locker room," Jefferson said. "But that's one thing about this team, we're deep, especially at the bigs. I feel like if he's out for a little while we can hold it down until he comes (back)."